Lidos & outdoor swimming baths make you shiver

Outdoor bathing at Ainsdale from a display at Ainsdale Discovery Centre.

The Liverpool Echo has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseysides-lost-lidos-whats-today-18190452

This article will bring back memories for many a Merseysider and indeed visitors to the once popular lidos around the coast of what are now Sefton and Wirral Boroughs. My dear old friend Charles (Uncle Albert) Walker, sadly no longer with us, would often talk of his exploits around New Brighton Baths in the late 1940’s.

My own recollection of outdoor an swimming pool and how cold they were is from Prestatyn Holiday Camp in the late 1960’s.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Maghull – It must now be 20 years+ of blooms in the shopping centre

The long view of 2016 winter planting down Westway looking from the Leighton Ave junction towards the A59 Northway.

The other day I got to thinking about how long floral displays have been going on in and around The Square/Westway. Well it must be around 20 years or more.

It all started with a former Maghull Town & Sefton Borough Councillor by the name of Roy Connell. Forgive me if my memory is not fully correct but here goes.

Summer 2009 there were both hanging baskets & barrier planters

Roy realised that in some other parts of the Borough Sefton Council put up hanging baskets (outside the Strand in Bootle was one such place) and he asked for them to be erected in Maghull along Westway too. His request was eventually agreed to but Maghull Town Council wanted to join in too. What came out of this was a partnership between Sefton and Maghull Councils, brokered by former Town Clerk Barry Smith, whereby Sefton would pay for so many hanging baskets and Maghull Town Council would both pay for the extra ones they wanted (along part of Liverpool Road North & up Stafford Moreton Way) and they would do the watering of all of the baskets using their in-house parks/grounds maintenance team.

This carried on for a few years but then problems started to emerge with regard to the strength of the aged street light columns which had had two hanging baskets fixed to each one. We were told that some of the street lights were no longer safe to hold hanging baskets so those along Liverpool Road North and on Stafford Moreton way were removed. Subsequently, as a cost cutting move, Sefton stopped funding all hanging baskets across the Borough but for a while the Town Council kept going with the ones along Westway. But then the same issue arose with the strength of street lamps there too so after about 8 years or so they were no more. You can still see some of the brackets which the hanging baskets were suspended from as they’ve not been removed.

A circular prize winning flower planter on Maghull’s Westway.

I think it was around this time, about 12 years ago, that the Maghull in Bloom volunteers were established and I recall them attending a Maghull Town Council meeting (at the time I both lived in Maghull and was a Maghull councillor) asking for support. The Town Council agreed to fund MinB to the tune of £5,000 per year (reduced to £2000 in the past few years) and it also agreed to take on the watering of the summer planting along Westway which would from then on take the form of pavement planters and pedestrian barrier baskets as opposed to hanging baskets.

MinB volunteer’s hanging baskets at Treeview Court

Maghull in Bloom volunteers went on establish themselves as one of the Town’s most high profile voluntary groups with additional displays at Treeview Court (summer hanging baskets & year-round pavement planters), Deyes Lane shops (summer hanging baskets), Leeds Liverpool Canal (Planters at bridges & weekly canal towpath litter picking), The Fruit Meadows & flower beds/planters on KGV Park/outside Meadows Leisure Centre.

In 2019 Maghull Town Council passed the responsibility for watering the Westway summer displays onto the owners of the shopping centre London & Cambridge Properties and they completed the summer 2019 watering season. And that is pretty much the story of the blooms in Maghull shopping centre over the past 20+ years.

Merseyrail train rides with Chester

I have a four legged friend called Chester, he’s a Chocolate Labrador and it seems that, like me, he enjoys riding trains.

Chester waiting for his train at Rice Lane Station

He and I have escaped from Roy Connell, his owner, a couple of times now and spent some time riding on Merseyrail. We have travelled from Ainsdale to Maghull and more recently had a run out on the Kirkby line. It turns out that prior to my taking Chester on a train he’d never been on one! Fancy that 10 years old and never been on a train, that’ll never do.

Chester especially likes being made a fuss of and on both our train rides other passengers have obliged. I’ve also spoken to him about the Merseyrail Class 507/508 EMU’s and the fact that they are soon to be replaced by Class 777’s but he’s clearly not a fully fledged railway enthusiast just yet and is more keen to have treats and a fuss made of him.

Maghull – Those hugely contentious planning applications for its urban expansion

The vast Maghull East site seen from Poverty Lane presently used for growing crops but under Sefton Council’s Local Plan it will become housing


Place North West has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.placenorthwest.co.uk/news/sefton-defers-decision-on-1700-homes/

The deferment was of course associated with the Special Planning Committee meeting held last week in Bootle Town Hall.

I guess those of us who fought against this vast former Green Belt/high grade agricultural site being designated for housing in Sefton Council’s Local Plan (I fought it twice – 1998 WON, Most recently – LOST) will be sad but resigned. Resigned to the fact the battle to save the land from development was actually lost when Sefton Council approved its Local Plan on 20th April 2017.

On that date we lost the battle to save the land

The issues at stake now for Maghull are all about how the site will be developed, drained, laid out, the effect on the local infrastructure, the timescale for the building etc. etc. There can be no doubt that an urban extension to Maghull of the scale of 1,600+ houses will have very significant impacts on the highway network, public transport, health facilities, school places, land drainage, you name it.

It was for all these reasons that I fought to to protect this high grade agricultural land, which grows the food we eat, and engaged with the two campaigns to stop the development in 1998 and then again up to April 2017.

Yes clearly Sefton’s Planning Committee now has some huge decisions to face up to/tackle following the Council selecting the vast Maghull East site to build upon. But as Sefton decided to designate such a huge area for housing the problems of actually delivering on that site are a direct consequence of that designation. No ifs, no buts.

Maghull folk, particularly those living around/close to this massive development, have now been pulled into all kinds of issues which concern and worry them. Yes they are trying to influence the Council and developers but I fear that with the planning system in the UK being set up the way that it is that soon Sefton’s Planning Committee will give the green light whilst many issues of concern in that community will be left unaddressed.

Frankly, I have never liked the way town and country planning takes place. It’s too remote from communities, its full of jargon and complexities that seem to be in place to keep ordinary people at arms length. My two years on Sefton’s Planning Committee up to May 2015, when I came off Sefton Council, confirmed this to me. And no this is not a dig at Sefton Planning, its a dig at the whole set up of planning across the UK for generations.

I deeply regret not being able to save both Green Belt and high grade agricultural sites across Sefton Borough from development but I enjoyed working with community campaigners like Maria Bennett, Peter Greener and many many others who put their every effort into those campaigns.

Maybe one day, hopefully soon, Government will value high grade agricultural land more highly than bricks and mortar

Press cutting from 1998 as we fought to protect the Maghull east site from development. We won back then but could not win in the recent re-run of the battle for Maghull East.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

Regionalism – Brown is right, shame he did not take it on board when in power though

The BBC has the article on it website – see link below:-

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-51178628

I often think of Gordon Brown in a similar way to ex-US President Jimmy Carter, far more impressive out of power than when he was in it. But seriously this is a big issue and Brown, if belatedly, is hitting the right nail on the head. Regionalism has been at the heart of Liberal thinking for generations so of course he is right to start to champion it in England.

This, a direct quote from the BBC article, is pure Liberalism – “We have to give more power to people in the communities and in the localities and the regions. We have a far too over-centralised state based in one part of the country – an administrative, political and financial centre that excludes power from people out in the regions.”

And yes I accept that Labour did bring in regional government for Scotland and Wales as a positive step forward but to have stopped there was a mistake, a big mistake. If more powers had been devolved to the regions of England we may not now be in the sorry sate that we are. And no I’m not talking up City Region Mayors, they are just sticking plasters over the wounds of our great cities. Their powers are both concentrated in the hands of one person (wrong in my book) and too few to make much difference anyway.

I hope Labour takes up Gordon’s liberalising agenda.

With thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting

Gina Miller has stood up for our democracy when others have failed to do so

The Independent has the article on its website – see link below:-

www.independent.co.uk/voices/boris-johnson-general-election-brexit-courts-legal-gina-miller-a9218256.html

This woman is fearless and her determination to uphold the rule of law in the UK has been without precedent, but the fact that she has had to do this shows how weak our democracy has become.

My thanks to Roy Connell for the lead to this posting.